Saturday, June 27, 2009

Who should have acess to publications supported by federal money? Well, everyone. See Federal Research Public Access Act

Well, this is good news. Here is some information on the Federal Research Public Access Act S. 1373 introduced by Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Cornyn (information is mostly from this site: Alliance for Taxpayer Access | Federal Research Public Access Act). This is really important as it will expand the accessibility of papers to agencies outside NIH (e.g., NSF are you listening, DOE are you listening). To help with this see Call to action: Tell Congress you support the Federal Research Public Access Act

Every federal agency with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more will implement a public access policy that is consistent with and advances the federal purpose of the respective agency. Each agency must:

  • Require each researcher – funded totally or partially by the agency – to submit an electronic copy of the final manuscript that has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Ensure that the manuscript is preserved in a stable digital repository maintained by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation. Agencies have the flexibility to choose the best suitable location for their repository.
  • Require that free, online access to each taxpayer-funded manuscript be available as soon as possible, and no later than six months after the article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

To whom this policy applies:

  • Any researcher employed by a federal agency with an annual research budget exceeding $100 million who publishes an article based on the work done for the funding agency in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Any researcher funded by a federal agency with an annual research budget exceeding $100 million who publishes an article based on the funded research in a peer-reviewed journal.

What is not covered by this legislation:

  • The public access policy does not apply to laboratory notes, preliminary data analyses, author notes, phone logs, or other information used to produce the final manuscript.
  • The policy does not apply to classified research. Research that results in works that generate revenue or royalties for the author (such as books), or patentable discoveries are exempt only to the extent necessary to protect copyright or a patent.

Also see below from the Congressional Record (and Hat Tip to Heather Joseph from SPARC for pointing all of this out).

From June 25 Congressional Record:          By Mr. LIEBERMAN (for himself and Mr. Cornyn):

S. 1373. A bill to provide for Federal agencies to develop public access policies relating to research conducted by employees of that agency; or from funds administered by that agency to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I rise to introduce the Federal Research Public Access Act. I am very pleased to be joined again by my good friend and colleague, Senator Joe Lieberman, who has remained dedicated to seeing this important legislation passed. This bipartisan bill is the same legislation we introduced in the 109th Congress. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure American taxpayers' dollars are spent wisely, which is even more important now in this time of fiscal tension.

To put things in perspective, the Federal Government spends upwards of $55 billion on investments for basic and applied research every year. There are approximately 11 departments/agencies that are the recipients of these investments, including: the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Agriculture. These departments/agencies then distribute the taxpayers' money to fund research which is typically conducted by outside researchers working for universities, health care systems, and other groups.

While this research is undoubtedly necessary and is beneficial to America, it remains the case that not all Americans are capable of experiencing these benefits firsthand. Usually the results of the researchers are published in academic journals. Despite the fact that the research was paid for by Americans' tax dollars, most citizens are unable to attain timely access to the wealth of information that the research provides.

Some Federal agencies, most notably the NIH, have recognized this lack of availability and have proceeded to take positive steps in the right direction by requiring that those articles based on government- funded research be easily accessible to the public in a timely manner. I am proud to report that the NIH's public access policy has been a success over the past few years. By the NIH implementing a groundbreaking public access policy, there has been strong progress in making the NIH's federally funded research available to the public, and has helped to energize this debate.

Although this has surely been an encouraging and important step forward, Senator Lieberman and I believe there is more that can and must be done, as this is just a small part of the research funded by the Federal Government.

With that in mind, Senator Lieberman and I find it necessary to reintroduce the Federal Research Public Access Act that will build on and refine the work done by the NIH and require that the Federal Government's leading underwriters of research adopt meaningful public access policies. Our legislation provides a simple and practical solution to giving the public access to the research it funds.

Our bill will ask all Federal departments and agencies that invest $100 million or more annually in research to develop a public access policy. Our goal is to have the results of all government-funded research to be disseminated and made available to the largest possible audience. By speeding access to this research, we can help promote the advancement of science, accelerate the pace of new discoveries and innovations, and improve the lives and welfare of people at home and abroad.

Each policy that these departments and agencies develop will require that articles resulting from federal funding must be presented in some publicly accessible archive within six months of publication. In doing so, the American taxpayers will have guaranteed access to the latest research, ensuring that they do not have to pay for the same research twice--first to conduct it and then again to view the results.

This simple legislation will provide our government with an opportunity to better leverage our investment in research and in turn ensure a greater return on that investment. All Americans stand to benefit from this bill, including patients diagnosed with a disease who will have the ability to use the Internet to read the latest articles in their entirety concerning their prognosis, students who will be able to find full abundant research as they further their education, or researchers who will have their findings more broadly evaluated which will lead to further discovery and innovation.

While a comprehensive competitiveness agenda is still a work-in- progress, this legislation is good step forward. Providing public access to cutting-edge scientific information is one way we can encourage public interest in these fields and help accelerate the pace of discovery and innovation. In promoting this legislation, I hope to guarantee that students, researchers, and every American can access the published results of the research they funded.

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